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I think its a little silly to write a review of the foundational text of ones own religion. What exactly do you say about a book that has been around for thousands of years and has changed the entire course of history? So, I will try to keep this short and sweet and stick mostly to the commentary portions and my own personal experiences. Reading the Torah cover to cover has been one of my bucket list goals for a long time, and it took a considerable amount of time to complete. I initially read Genesis and Exodus about three and a half years ago but ended up dropping my daily reading around the time I got to Leviticus. I decided to pick the Torah back up in summer of 2012 and have been reading about a chapter a night until I finished yesterday evening. As Ive mentioned before, Im not sure there are any words I can use to review my experience of reading the Torah without sounding pretty ridiculous. There were passages that were deeply moving, passages that were intensely disturbing, and passages that were, quite frankly, extremely boring and a struggle to get through. However, I think I am stating the obvious when I say that, taken as a whole, this is an absolutely remarkable text. When you also factor in the time period at which this was actually written, it documents a stunning and almost unbelievable revolution in human religious thought. In terms of Plauts commentary, I think there are a number of things left to be desired. While I agree with Plaut that the Torah was probably written by multiple people many generations after the events in the book actually took place, I dont think the constant comparisons between the Torah and other ancient texts are that relevant to most modern lay readers. A little bit of this would have been interesting trivia, but it really shouldnt be the main emphasis of the commentary chapters (which it ends up being). What I would have preferred would have been more commentary on how modern readers who do believe that the Torah was written by human beings can actually apply the concepts to their daily lives. This is something which Plaut (and much of the Reform movement) shies away from doing in any sort of bold or definitive way. While this certainly avoids controversy, it makes for a very lukewarm religious movement. I think this is a major problem in terms of getting modern readers to actually pick up the text or get involved in Judaism.In contrast to the interpretive essays, I really enjoyed the Gleanings sections at the end of every chapter, which provided very interesting ideas and interpretations of the text. This section convinced me that reading the Talmud and Midrash may be a really nice way to continue to engage with the Torah and continuing studying.

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